With age, they say, comes wisdom. This is why I am constantly slapping my younger self…aka. mini-me. If I only knew then what I know now — a common phrase with which we all beat ourselves up. If only I was an octopus, I’d be slapping myself eight times a day.
My father extended our attic, transforming it into a small apartment for my grandmother whom I called Nany. I was a teenager. Now Nany was an articulate and wicked smart woman. She spoke five languages, all of which she wanted to teach me. Need I tell you what my attitude was about that? And can you hear me slapping my mini-me now? Here I was 13 going into an “I’m too hip for that “ age. Slap No. 2 right there.
I won’t bore you with the infinite number of slaps I’ve given myself over the years because actually I’m still doing it. My mini-me has grown up along side me. I slapped 30-year-old me, 50-year-old me and still slapping. But occasionally (rarely) I’d give mini-me a hug. Nany loved opera; I loved Elvis. But I surrendered to one of her numerous invites to an opera: my first, “Madame Butterfly.” I loved it. Nany taught me how to appreciate the music, the arias, the stories, and so, I still do. That’s the hug.
If only I knew…going to college directly after high school would have saved me time and money. But, noooo! The so-called glamorous life of working in an office and wearing stockings and high heels and, oh, those sharp looking suits was a siren’s song beckoning. Slap! I ultimately did go to college — once I knew. Hug.
My parents tried to tell me, tried to reason with me through many of my now slap-able decisions. After receiving a modest inheritance, I was advised to save it or use it toward college. Ahem, nah, let’s just spend it. And so I did with abandon. Slap!
We had a piano in our house for Mom. She learned to play by ear at a young age by watching the keys go down on a player piano in her home. I was always amazed how she could sit down and just play anything; she couldn’t read music. Well, here it comes….Mom wanted me to take lessons. After way too long just playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” I balked. I wanted to play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18 — NOW. She lost patience, the teacher quit, and, you guessed it, I’m slapping myself still.
Most girls in my day dreamed of lavish weddings complete with a new bridal gown, flowers, live music and ridiculously overpriced food. I was no different. But my father offered what I now think was an excellent alternative to the pomp and fluff. He said, “Mom and I would love to give you the money to use for a down payment on a home with a scaled down wedding.” Triple slap! The wedding was extravagant, the marriage lasted 19 years, and I’m not sure, but there may still be a mortgage on that first house!
Wouldn’t it be perfect if we could impart years of growing wisdom to our kiddos? A friend of mine told me she advised her son to come out of the basement where he was day trading and to get a real job. Remember those days? She warned him, “You could lose the only shirt you have on your back.” Well, uh, this probably isn’t a good example because he made a fortune… but it could’ve gone the other way?
We try, anyway, to impart that wisdom. But as our “mini-mes” remind us, they’re not listening any more than we did. And so the slapping continues and is passed on like an inherited gene. They, too, will be chanting: “if only I knew then…” Yeah, and “I told you so” won’t cut it — only slapping your younger self will. Well, except for that day trader. Oof.
About the columnist: LJ Bury is a resident of Copperleaf at The Brooks with a diverse background including stints as creator/editor of a fine arts magazine, a political blogger and a talent coordinator. LJ’s Corner tells the stories of everyday life, with all its joys, frustrations and ponders.
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PONDER TO BLOW YOUR MIND
If nothing is impossible, is it possible for something to be impossible?